New iPad publishing system Prss sets out 'to make print feel stupid'

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
As Apple's iPad takes printed publications to the woodshed, startup publishing platform Prss wants to enable a new generation of digital publications that "enrich content and inspire other people's lives, just by doing that."

Prss publishing system


Publishing in the iPad age is a proposition fraught with danger: digital publications must match the dead simple ease of use of their print counterparts, while adding enough additional value --?through interactive elements or enhanced accessibility, perhaps --?to justify their often slightly higher price. Those that fall short meet a swift, and often expensive, demise.

Netherlands-based Michel Elings and his team developed Prss because the tools they were using to create their own iPad magazine, Trvl, were hampering the team's ability to deliver a solid experience for users, causing complaints. "People really hated us," Elings told AppleInsider in April of this year.

Six months later, with Prss powering what was at one point Apple's number one Made for iOS 7 iPad app --?TheNextWeb's SHIFT magazine -- AppleInsider spoke with Elings again about where the software is now and what they see on the horizon.

Prss publishing system


Elings's overarching goal with Prss, he said, "was to make print feel stupid. Everything we've built in the last one-and-a-half years or so is completely based on that."

The company has re-imagined nearly every aspect of publishing for Apple's tablets. Everything from the way publishers' employees work together to bring a publication to life to the mechanics of distributing the finished product to readers has been carefully considered be as simple as possible while retaining flexibility and power.
Prss is designed to enable instant collaboration anywhere in the world
Elings is particularly proud of Prss's realtime collaboration features. Each and every change that a publisher makes is automatically saved, allowing writers and designers to immediately pick up right where the other left off. Because Prss is web based, that means instant collaboration from anywhere in the world without maintaining expensive infrastructure or manually e-mailing around source files.

"It's something that we really like, it's completely new in the whole magazine sphere -- you don't need to wait for each other any more," Elings said.

The application -- built with Ruby on Rails and Javascript --?is also impressively responsive. In a demonstration, layout tools moved freely and with none of the stuttering or delay sometimes found in other web-based programs.

In order to give designers the tools they need to create visually stunning layouts, several features normally found in high-end print design packages have been tweaked for the platform and included. Stories can be easily "flowed" between text boxes, for instance, while custom layouts can be saved as reusable templates that can be quickly filled with content, dropping the time required to publish from days to hours.

Prss publishing system


Overall, Prss does a laudable job for publishers of bridging the production gap between ink and pixels, but Elings does not plan to stop there. "A magazine is always about a curated, heavily-designed experience, but the experience can now go beyond the printed page," he said.
Prss features an excellent selection of layout tools and a responsive interface
Elings said the goal is to allow publishers to easily integrate with other iOS APIs to create fully interactive, immersive experiences, just as simply as adding an image. A story about an upcoming event could add an entry to a reader's calendar or a clothing advertisement might make use of the device's camera to allow readers to virtually "try on" the offerings, for example.

Additionally, Prss put a significant amount of effort into the reading experience. Magazine issues are small --?around 25 megabytes --?and readers do not need to wait for the entire issue to download before they can start reading, a feature that Elings said was particularly difficult to get right.

"We needed to do some spectacular things for that," he said.

Even the small, seemingly single-function Newsstand applications that deliver each publication have been developed with care, featuring minimal user interface elements and reacting swiftly to readers' input.

"We don't want the reader to think about technical decisions," said Elings. "We want our app to go away and the content to shine."

Prss publishing system


Prss is also working to upend the market financially. Unlike other vendors, the company does not charge recurring licensing or publishing fees, and publishers do not need to purchase expensive software licenses. Those expenses can easily add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the cost of an issue.

Instead, Elings and company simply ask for 5 cents per download.

"We always felt screwed" by other software's pricing structures "and we didn't want people to be feeling screwed anymore," he added.

"We just wanted to make a fair price for everyone, and that is something we really care about."

Elings said the company has more than 10,000 people on a waiting list to try the software and is in the process of working with more than 50 top publishers.

"It's amazing, we haven't done any kind of advertising yet, but there seems to be such a big gap between what we have to offer and what the rest of the industry is doing."
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    What is this? An ads?

    :D
  • Reply 2 of 36
    irelandireland Posts: 17,617member
    kovacm wrote: »
    What is this? An ads?

    :D

    An article-ad! ;-)
  • Reply 3 of 36
    ireland wrote: »
    kovacm wrote: »
    What is this? An ads?

    :D

    An article-ad! ;-)

    An adticle?
  • Reply 4 of 36

    It’s testing a new type of article.

     

    A testicle, if you will.

  • Reply 5 of 36
    "Six months later, with Prss powering what was at one point Apple's number one Made for iOS 7 iPad app — TheNextWeb's SHIFT magazine"

    Shane, have you even tried TNW's app or at the very least read the iOS reviews for it? Awful, with most reviewers complaining about the UX.
    Given this, I'm inclined to go along with other comments here that this is indeed an ad for what is a mediocre product.
    Nice one.
  • Reply 6 of 36
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    I HATE what modern technology has done to magazines. I don't like all of this distracting interactivity. I'm not reading a text book. I want the article and some pictures. Men's Health is a prime example of screwing up a great magazine.
  • Reply 7 of 36
    Something I discovered about "ads" is that they're only annoying when you see them more than once. A product review is not an ad, because we're usually all interested in being informed about interesting new products, especially if they may bolster Apple's platforms, or change the way an industry works which might go in Apple's favour. I think this kind of article is ideally suited to a site like this. Now, if they ran an extremely similar article to this, discussing this very product, every week%u2026 then it would be an ad.
  • Reply 8 of 36
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,295member
    Some pretty strange comments so far. :no:

    TRVL is an awesome magazine. My first reaction was I wish I could create stuff like that, easily. I hoped they would release their creation tools as was rumored early on. I love great creation tools that are unique to the Apple eco system. I remember well my company selling and my staff training DTP systems with Page Maker, Freehand or Illustrator on Macs equipped with LaswerWriters when it was just Apple, Adobe and Aldus ruling the DTP revolution. Not a PC in sight for a while.

    It's great to see a new wave of Apple only creativity in publishing rolled out.

    Not to review it would be as ridiculous as Mac World Magazine not reviewing PageMaker or PostScript back in the early 1980s.

    Get a grip people!
  • Reply 9 of 36
    Print has feelings?!?
  • Reply 10 of 36
    akqiesakqies Posts: 768member
    An adticle?

    Is that Boston accent?
  • Reply 11 of 36
    akqiesakqies Posts: 768member
    leesmith wrote: »
    Print has feelings?!?

    I'm not sure about feelings but it can be a character.
  • Reply 12 of 36
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,603member
    It’s testing a new type of article.

    A testicle, if you will.
    :)
  • Reply 13 of 36
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member

    Quote: "Publishing in the iPad age is a proposition fraught with danger: digital publications must match the dead simple ease of use of their print counterparts, while adding enough additional value — through interactive elements or enhanced accessibility, perhaps — to justify their often slightly higher price."

     

    Who are these people. Digital books are typically quite a bit cheaper than their print counterparts, in my case $2.99 versus $14.95. And I'd be quite happy if the tools would just let me create ebooks as typographically sophisticated as a print book. Forget the interactive stuff. Forget the multimedia that costs a fortune to do right. Just do what print can do and has been able to do for hundreds of years.

     

    Quote: 'Elings's overarching goal with Prss, he said, "was to make print feel stupid. Everything we've built in the last one-and-a-half years or so is completely based on that."'

     

    Remarks like that make me wonder if he's got much sense. Print is a highly refined product and an excellent way to handle word-after-word texts, which is precisely why people read, whether in print or digital. Adding multi-media is far too expensive in all but bestsellers and a complex UI is just a distraction.

     

    The basic problem with ebook publishing today is quite simple. Those developing the standards (i.e. ePub) have been looking to webpages for ideas. But that's ridiculous. An ebook shares a lot more with a print book that it does with web pages. They should be looking to print and attempting to duplicate its features.

     

    For instance:

     

    * Web pages are online and can pull anything from there--such as video. Ebook readers such as the Kindle typically spend their time off line, so storage space for videos is a big problem.

     

    * Web pages typically on run for one or two screens and users scroll down to read. Books run for the equivalent of hundreds of screens and users page though them. A lot of the stupidity of ebooks (i.e. bad page breaks for pictures and orphaned text) is because those creating ePub standards forget the distinction between scrolling and pagination. They build for what works with scrolling and the result looks awful with pagination.

     

    * What makes sense on a short webpage, i.e. lots of pictures and clickable links, makes no sense for a book were the reader intends to read along for a half hour or more. People visit webpages to be distracted. They read books to get away for a time.

     

    If you'd like to see an illustration of how best to do an ebook given current epub standards, check out a book I recently published. I use pictures about as well as they can be used. Both Amazon and Apple offer free samples of the digital version and Amazon offers a look inside for the print version.

     

    --Michael W. Perry, My Nights with Leukemia: Caring for Children with Leukemia

  • Reply 14 of 36
    "PRSS"?
    Surely they could have come up with something better than that...?
  • Reply 15 of 36
    aussiepaul wrote: »
    "PRSS"?
    Surely they could have come up with something better than that...?

    Exactly.

    I thought that silly style went out with arcana like ROKR and RAZR....
  • Reply 16 of 36
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member

    To me it reads "Purse".

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by aussiepaul View Post



    "PRSS"?

    Surely they could have come up with something better than that...?

  • Reply 17 of 36
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,295member
    bdkennedy1 wrote: »

    In 1984 people mocked Apple's use of mice and words joined like LaserWriter. :no:
  • Reply 18 of 36
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,295member
    aussiepaul wrote: »
    "PRSS"?
    Surely they could have come up with something better than that...?

    I assume you don't read TRVL. It could, I suppose, be interpreted as PRISS, PRASS or PRUSS etc. but in a publishing situation anyone with an IQ over 120 would assume PRESS.
  • Reply 19 of 36
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

    In 1984 people mocked Apple's use of mice and words joined like LaserWriter. image

     

    100 years ago, it was still “to-day” in some places. And heck, I still write “e-mail”, myself.

  • Reply 20 of 36
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,295member
    100 years ago, it was still “to-day” in some places. And heck, I still write “e-mail”, myself.

    It isn't e-mail?
Sign In or Register to comment.